Apple updates App Guidelines with eye on children's privacy

The latest changes to the App Review Guidelines caution against collecting certain information from kids.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Apple has tweaked its guidelines for app developers to emphasize the latest rules regarding children's privacy.

The guidelines have been updated to reflect the latest changes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and Apple's renewed focus on education with iOS 7, says blog site MacRumors.

In the past, COPPA prevented developers from gathering the names, addresses, and phone numbers of children under 13 without parental consent. Since the start of the year, those restrictions have extended to photographs, videos, and audios as well.

The specific guidelines now read as follows, according to MacRumors:

17.3 Apps may ask for date of birth (or use other age-gating mechanisms) only for the purpose of complying with applicable children's privacy statutes, but must include some useful functionality or entertainment value regardless of the user's age

17.4 Apps that collect, transmit, or have the capability to share personal information (e.g. name, address, email, location, photos, videos, drawings, persistent identifiers, the ability to chat, or other personal data) from a minor must comply with applicable children's privacy statutes.

As part of its new emphasis on the educational market, Apple also updated its guidelines with a new section known as "Kids Apps," MacRumors added.

Children under 13 will now be able to have their own individual iTunes accounts. But developers who design apps for kids must follow certain rules, such as including a privacy policy, excluding behaviorial advertising, and requiring parental consent before letting children "link out of the app or engage in commerce."